It’s a quiet night at Yale’s Saybrook College residence hall, nestled within the Gothic confines of the university’s stately New Haven campus. Halfway up one of the winding stairwells, the telltale glow of a laptop screen blends with the low but thoughtful chatter of three blooming academics.
One is shirtless and sits on the stairs with the computer, one leans against a banister and another – heading to brush his teeth – stops to debate whether democracy, liberty and freedom can all truly coexist in any particular political system. He dismisses the works of Robert Dahl, the 20th-century Yale professor who questioned whether the U.S. Constitution is, indeed, democratic. Dahl’s points are valid, but the approach is too stuffy, professorial and out of touch, the student says.